Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2016

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Ratner, Albert

First Committee Member

Lin, Ching-Long

Second Committee Member

Udaykumar, H S

Third Committee Member

Buchholz, James H J

Fourth Committee Member

Fiegel, Jennifer


In spite of recent attention to renewable sources of energy, liquid hydrocarbon fuels are still the main source of energy for industrial and transportation systems. Manufactures and consumers are consistently looking for ways to optimize the efficiency of fuel combustion in terms of cost, emissions and consumer safety. In this regard, increasing burning rate of liquid fuels has been of special interest in both industrial and transportation systems. Recent studies have shown that adding combustible nano-particles could have promising effects on improving combustion performance of liquid fuels. Combustible nano-particles could enhance radiative and conductive heat transfer and also mixing within the droplet. Polymeric additive have also shown promising effect on improving fire safety by suppressing spreading behavior and splatter formation in case of crash scenario. Polymers are also known to have higher burning rate than regular hydrocarbon fuels. Therefore adding polymeric additive could have the potential to increase the burning rate.

In this work, combustion dynamics of liquid fuel droplets with both polymeric and nanoparticle additives is studied in normal gravity. High speed photography is employed and the effect of additive concentration on droplet burning rate, burning time, extinction and soot morphology is investigated.

Polymer added fuel was found to have a volatility controlled combustion with four distinct regimes. The first three zones are associated with combustion of base fuel while the polymer burns last and after a heating zone because of its higher boiling point. Polymer addition reduces the burning rate of the base fuel in the first zone by means of increasing viscosity and results in nucleate boiling and increased burning rates in the second and third stages. Overall, polymer addition resulted in a higher burning rate and shorter burning time in most of the scenarios. Colloidal suspensions of carbon-based nanomaterials in liquid fuels were also tested at different particle loadings. It was found that dispersing nanoparticles results in higher burning rate by means of enhanced radiative heat absorption and thermal conductivity. An optimum particle loading was found for each particle type at which the maximum burning rate was achieved. It was observed that the burning rate again starts to reduce after this optimum point most likely due to the formation of large aggregates that reduce thermal conductivity and suppress the diffusion of species.


Diesel, Droplet Combustion, Jet Fuel, Nanofluid, Nanoparticle, Polymer


xi, 112 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 103-112).


Copyright © 2016 Mohsen Ghamari